Girl dad Muhammed Nitoto remembers feeling flushed the first time he took his two young daughters into the women’s bathroom.
How would other patrons respond? Would they ask him to leave?
“I’m a 6-foot-2 Black man,” Nitoto told TODAY Parents. “I had no idea what the reaction would be.”
At the same time, the father of Zendaya, 5, and Zuri, 3, wasn’t comfortable with the other option. Zuri was still wearing diapers and the changing table in the men's room was out in the open by the sinks and urinals.
“Protecting my children’s privacy is my main priority,” Nitoto, 37, said. He noted that a majority of men’s restrooms are also often filthy and not set up for babies and kids.
Nitoto’s first choice is always a family or gender-neutral bathroom, but many places don’t have them. In that case, he visits the women’s bathroom with Zendaya and Zuri.
The California dad and parenting blogger said he always announces himself before entering.
“I say, ‘Excuse me, ‘I’m a dad, and I have my daughters with me. Do you mind if I bring them in?’” Nitoto explained. “If I hear the door open when we're in a stall, I re-announce myself. I don’t want to surprise anyone. I know some women have experienced trauma and might be afraid. I try to be as respectful as possible."
While the question of which bathroom people use has recently become a heated issue, Nitoto said he’s never encountered a person who was offended by his presence. On one occasion, a woman asked him to wait outside until she was finished. Then, she offered to stand guard outside the bathroom for him and his kids.
“Being a dad with daughters, it’s just a completely different experience than being a mom with a son,” he said. "And I think moms understand that."
Nitoto was inundated with praise after he shared a post on Instagram about why he takes his daughters to women’s public restrooms.
“I’m father to a little lady and mens toilets are no place for a little girl! Urinals are not the most private affair! This post has given me the courage to take her to the ladies respectfully if the disabled loo is unavailable. Thanks again, you may have just changed daddy daughter days out,” one person wrote in the comments.
Added another, “I think this is a valid response to doing what is best for your baby and would absolutely have no issue with it what so ever. As parents we’re all in this together."